Warm welcome to the victors

Warwick Beacon ·

Chuck Lanigan had his suspicions when the State Police pulled away from the hangars on Airport Road. Why would they be leaving when the Patriots were due to arrive any minute?

Lanigan’s intuition paid off Monday afternoon when south of the terminal he spotted the microwave dish of a news truck above the vehicles in the long-term parking lot. Perhaps TV news crews knew something the police didn’t.

He was right.

Mary Reynolds – like Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman running free amidst the Rams’ defensive backs on Sunday – was a step ahead of Lanigan and his wife, Alayne. She was one of a dozen who had staked out a spot on the airport chain link fence. She had her lawn chair and an extra coat, just in case.

She had found a similar viewing slot the Sunday when her beloved team left for Atlanta. Only then it was freezing and she was chilled to the bone.

Yesterday’s spring-like weather was not only a relief, but also seemingly a reward for the team and its third Super Bowl victory in five years, and sixth since the California kid nobody had ever heard of brought New England fans their first football title in the history of the franchise 17 years earlier to the day.

“I’m really excited for them,” she said, admitting without guilt that she wouldn’t be attending the Boston parade. She had done her part by enduring the cold on the departure and now in the warmth of the sun welcoming them home.

What did she think of the game?

“I thought it was a little slow, but the outcome was good.”

And like Lanigan and his wife, Reynolds doesn’t believe this is the final season for Tom Brady.

“They’re working on the other hand now,” she said, referring to Brady’s six Super Bowl rings.

Reynolds and Lanigan are both retired, so watching the Patriots arrive didn’t mean missing work. That wasn’t the case for everyone. For some, watching the Patriots plane taxi up to the tarmac as the team’s buses stood by to take them to Gillette Stadium was as convenient as stepping out of their terminal offices and taking a short walk.

As players started disembarking, some waving to the onlookers, spectators cheered. Overhead, three helicopters hovered, presumably with news crews grabbing footage.

All those interviewed were long-time Patriots fans, even Brayden Milulko, who sucked on a lemon lollipop.

“He’s been wearing Patriots clothing since he was a baby,” said his mother, Tricia.

Tricia confessed to being a fan “forever.”

Had she thought of naming her son Brady?

“My dog is named Brady. I couldn’t name the kid, too,” she said.

But then Brayden and the rest of the family, including his aunt, Megan Dellinger, who lives in Warwick, got to see what few fans see. Through connections they got a tour of the Patriots bus Brady rides on Sunday and Brayden had the chance to sit in his seat.

It was that kind of proximity to the team that brought Deb Dean out. She danced on her feet straining to see those getting off the plane.

“I know I’m 52,” she said, “but I feel like a child. My insides are exploding.”